Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

When I left Oxford on Monday, it was snowing. Deep, heavy, nearly stuck in it kind of snow. I arrived back to Liverpool in unseasonal heat and blazing sunshine and this disappointed me greatly. We’ve discussed in the past how much I love snow and so when I got up this morning and saw the fat gobs of snow falling around the house, I actually squealed. The snow has definitely been coming for the last 24 hrs, last night the temperature outside plummetted and I couldn’t keep my feet even slightly warm in bed. I even had to give up watching Call the Midwife on iPlayer in bed because my fingers and nose were too cold outside the sheets.


This supper is perfect for frosty/freezy conditions. We had it with a steaming pile of kale, which I think was so delicious because the contrast of quite bitter, strong leaves against the sweet, spiciness of the pie.


First confession, this was actually a cottage pie, but I imagine it would be even more delicious with lamb mince and I like the name better. Second confession, I didn’t expect this to work but my god, it did. David had seconds and I finished the pie dish off while waiting for the masses to gather for pancake making/eating. I stole the idea from a Nigel Slater recipe on the BBC food pages. It’s become my own because I had only a handful of the specified ingredients but it was absolutely delicious and I’d make it again. It wasn’t strongly spiced, not hot or anything, it just had a nice gentle warmth. I think chipotle creates a gentle and kind warmth rather than a blow your head off heat and I think they also add a dark richness to stews or pies.

spiced pie


Spiced Shepherd’s Pie

enough for about 3 or 4

  • 2 parsnips and 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 20g butter
  • 1 spring onion, chopped finely
  • sea salt, pepper
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 300g beef or lamb mince
  • 20g flour
  • 2 carrots, chopped finely
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • sage, rosemary, thyme
  • harissa paste, about a tsp, amount up to you
  • chipotle jam, the same
  • 1pt beef stock
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. In a large pan, boil the parsnips and sweet potatoes with a little sea salt until soft and mashable. While this is boiling, melt the butter and soften the spring onion in the melted butter. Stir into this the cumin and coriander and cook through for a couple of minutes. I did this bit in the microwave as it’s much quicker but a small saucepan on a low heat would be fine. When the potatoes and parsnips are cooked, mash them together with a little milk, if you have any, and stir through the spiced onion mix. Leave to one side.
  2. In a good, flattish pan, heat some olive oil and fry off the carrot and onion until browned. When these are brown, add the clove of garlic and the minced meat. Fry these until slightly golden around the edges and tip in the herbs.
  3. When the mince is browned/golden, stir in the flour and the harissa paste. Cook this through for about 5 minutes. I used harissa paste because I’d run out of tomato puree and it’s fairly close in colour and consistency. You could use either. Stir in the chipotle jam, the worcestershire sauce and the balsamic vinegar. Cook for a further couple of minutes.
  4. Pour over the pint of beef stock and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes until you have a thick rich, not too watery gravy. Tip this into a pie dish and top with large spoonfuls of your root veg mash. Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes at about 180C.
  5. Eat with peas or kale or spinach.

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